Sunfish blasphemy question

Discussion in 'Sunfish Talk' started by 254X, Aug 28, 2009.

  1. 254X

    254X New Member

    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    I'm new to Sunfish (still shopping for one) and to the forum (thoroughly appreciate it) so, as I did as an eight year-old in Sunday School, I'll go ahead and ask the blasphemous question while I'm still a newbie. Please be kind.

    A two-sentence background: My first experience on a Sunfish was a brief 20-minute sail where I asked myself, "Gee, this is really fun! They race these? What a blast that would be!" That was four years ago.

    So, this year, and after being out of sailing (raced a Flying Scot for a couple of years--not very well) and missing it I decided that sailing and racing a Sunfish would be a great way to get back on the water and having some fun. Inexpensive. Simple.

    Ok. So there's a Sunfish and a racing Sunfish, huh? Ok.

    So my blasphemy is this: What makes racing with a racing sail and the added lines so much better that racing with the typical recreational cut sails? What's up with that? And when did the one-design Sunfish start down two paths: Race version and recreational version? Seems to me that racing the same boat is the fun!

    And...if the racing cut sail is so much more "one-design fun," then why do we as a class not open the manufacture to any sail loft who wants to make them and get a little price competition going? If they're all made the same way, using the same measurements, the same cloth, then we could all watch the price go down. And it'd be even more fun!

    Fire away.
     
  2. Webfoot

    Webfoot New Member

    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    0
    You summed it up nicely. The Sunfish Goose is being roasted nicely, and when it's done the winner$ will take all the marble$ they made selling racing sails and performance part$ and go somewhere else.

    The other problem is trying the crowd from defecting to the Laser and Butterfly fleet. The problems you mentioned ain't going to help, maybe speed its demise.

    Thank you Agent 254X for your insight, this thread will self destruct in 30 seconds. . .
     
  3. Wayne

    Wayne Member Emeritus

    Likes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    0
    [Soap Box on ;)]

    [Disclaimer – I do not speak for anybody but myself]

    In a nut shell, there’s mutual cooperation between Class and builder and as part of this is the agreement to be a “factory class” in exchange for class support.

    Judging by the lack of aftermarket supply interest for most parts, new and old, there's not a whole lot of demand out there. A little demand appears to exist when viewed from here inside the "help group" box, however, the Sunfish forefathers just made the boat too darn well. That doesn't leave a whole lot for a company to exist on in an extremely low volume market.

    Have you become a Class member? If so, you can participate in these decisions.
    http://www.sunfishclass.org

    … on the lighter side … it could be worse (or more “normal”) depending on how you view free enterprise.


    [Notice]
    Starting next year we all have to upgrade to Sunfish 2.0 (project name - Ecnam-rofrep Resal) like it or not, because the new release of the Wind operating system, Wind v2010.1 will not be backwardly compatible with current release 1.8 of the boat or any earlier versions. Support for Sunfish v1.0 - v1.8 will cease at the end of March, 2010, at which point Wind v2010.01 will be in full force. By this date, the final release of Wind 2009…, Wind 2009 v1.12 will only operate with diminished highs and lows until activity reaches a state of dead calm.

    Watch for the new iBreeze, to be released mid-year 2010. . . . . (not race legal)


    I think one very real question is..., why does the recreational cut sail exist at all any more? Making just one cut of sail would combine sales, theoretically increasing volume, and lowering cost.

    I can answer my own question partly... Different colors stretch at different rates so colored panel sails wouldn’t hold race-worthy consistency as long as the all white version. ...and colored panels sell boats.



    That’s a really really good question. You could reason the split came in 1960 when the lighter, faster fiberglass hull was introduced. This innovation not only hit Sunfish, but nearly every boat (motor or sail) in production around the same time. People really did have to buy a whole new boat to be competitive. Then in 1972 the rudder was redesigned…

    Here’s a list of some of the design change points that may have contributed to segregating recreational from performance boats.

    (excludes accessory options like, hiking strap, tiller extension, dynamic outhauls – which have been allowed nearly from the inception of the racing Class in 1969)

    From the Sunfish Timeline in the Knowledge Base
    1952 – 1956 (Basis) Wooden Hull – 142 lbs., Ratsey-Lapthorn Cotton sail (75 sq ft), paddle shape rudder, wood spars, lashed-on sail.

    1957 Ratsey-Lapthorn Nylon Sail

    1960 Fiberglass Hull, Aluminum Mast & Spars, Dacron polyester sail, Round end rudder shape, Hull Wt 139

    1969 Sail draft increased. Sunfish racing Class is organized by builder AMF.

    1972 Shadow daggerboard, new rudder shape, new rudder kick-up mechanism

    1979 Sailmaker Fogh Sails of Canada

    1980 Barrington daggerboard design

    1984 Hull weight reduced to 129 lb

    1989 North race sail (optional), recreational sail is still standard

    1992 Neil Pryde Sails makes the recreational sail

    1993 Composite, foil-shape Daggerboard (optional). Barrington daggerboard design is still standard

    1997 Hull weight reduced to 120 Lb

    1998 North Sails makes both recreational and racing sail



    The Sunfish Class represents less that 10% of the Sunfish sailing and it’s elitist by it nature…, not a criticism, a reality of upper echelon competition. I can no more enter my family car at Indy or any race leading up to it…, so what about everyone else ?? Well, a lot of it is initiative. What happened to the “River Races”? We could use a few “Sailing Man” (human) get togethers. The numbers speak for themselves, not everyone wants to compete, the silent majority just want to sail.

    [Soap Box off ;)]
     
  4. Fun Fish

    Fun Fish Member

    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    6
    Wayne,

    I am sure this is a simpleton question, but I'll ask it anyway because I haven't finished my first cup of coffee this morning. Re: rec vs racing sails, why do some colors stretch more than others? Also, are they now cut/sewn to acheive the same draft or is there still a difference? Thanks in advance!
     
  5. mike4947

    mike4947 Member

    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
    From what I was told the different dyes affect the materials differently.
    As to difference today between the racing and recreational sails. while the have the same foot anf luff length the larger draft of the racing sail actually gives apx 85 sq ft versus 75 sq ft of actual area for the recreational sail.
     
  6. Wayne

    Wayne Member Emeritus

    Likes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    0
    The pigments added to the raw polymer during formulation influence the behavior of the plastic from that point onward. The exact behavior depends on the pigment type and its color, but in general darker colors tend to elongate more easily after they are extruded into fibers.

    Now, we're talking tenths of thousandths of an inch per inch (0.0001"), but over time the result is a little more noticeable bagging of dark panels over white or uncolored ones.

    The best situation is no colorant in the plastic and that's exactly what you see in big race boat sails. The natural hue of uncolored polyester (and some of the other sail fabrics) is often that straw yellow you see. All the graphics are applied on top of the fabric, not part of it.

    Volvo Ocean Race
    [​IMG]

    The other sail color you see today is..., none. Many of the "laminates" like Mylar are colorless, hence the clear sails.



    There's a difference. The North Sail (Sunfish OEM) recreational sail has less draft (camber) than the race sail. Other sailmaker's sails are made to resemble the OEM recreational sail, except Intensity Sail's "practice" sail which they claim is cut like the OEM race sail. I've not had a third party sail side by side with my OEM sails to scrutinize what, if any, differences in cut, material, or workmanship there might be.

    SLO Sail and Canvas - www.SloSailandCanvas.com

     
  7. 58984 EW

    58984 EW Member

    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    18
    I think part of the answer has to do with the consistency (or perceived lack thereof) of the non-racing sail. Sometime in the mid-late'80s the racing sail was introduced as a way to get a good, consistent saidl. Prior to that there had been a series of manufacturers who had each made slightly different sails, each having an advantage/disadvantage in different condidions. The way I remember it, the class decided it would be better to have a bigger, better, more consistent sail built to make the non-racing sails obsolete than to have the perception that it was a lottery every time one went to buy a sail.

    If you are just getting started with racing, a racing sail will not make you competitive. I'd stick with what you have for now and focus on getting better each time out. At some point you will know that you are ready for the better sail. Boat handling, reading the wind, tactics, etc are far more important than the sail when getting started.

    Eric W
    NE Rep to the USSCA
     
  8. scap114

    scap114 Member

    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
    It seems we may have gottten away from the original post of why the changes were made to the Sunfish in the first place, the question seems to be, 'why was not the boat left in its original form'. If that is true, I will give my opinion. Originally the Sunfish was copied, many clones were on the market. Price, not design was a factor, although some companies advertized as being 'faster than a Sunfish'. When raced, Sunfish were raced by themselves, or in open fleets where the Portsmouth ratings were used. It was not until the Laser came on the scene that Sunfish had a competitor by design. The Laser was faster and was less forgiving. Sunfish introduced the "Super Sunfish" (which I am not real familiar with, but I think it has a sail similar to the laser) to counter. Changes, from a producers point of view, are made to maintain market. Sunfish has had several manufactures from the original Alcort to AMF to Pierson and on. These producers had to keep the boat desirable to the boat buyer. At sometime the producer of the Laser and Sunfish became the same. The producer now has no competitiion as the number of single handled sailboats being produced has decreased as has the interest in sailing. The only way to generate cash for a company is to generate interest in the product. If the producer feels more interest will be generated by changes, changes will be make. As far as sail makers are concerened, if you have many producers each producer will try to make thier sail 'the' sail to have. they may do this by offering unique color combinations or they may alter the sail in a small way to gain aperformance advantage. It would be hard for the class to measure each sail produced to protect that someone does not gain an advantage by getting a 'custom' sail. Just my opinion
     
  9. Porpoise2

    Porpoise2 New Member

    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    The entire boating industry has a decrease in interest; hence the 2005-onward "Discover Boating" advertising blitz in Canada...
    [​IMG]
    ...and the USA...
    [​IMG]
    (Title: Dogs Need Weekends Too).

    With wobbly gas prices and today's questionable economy, Sunfish sailing may enjoy a resurgence even above power boating. :)
     
  10. 21tctrade

    21tctrade New Member

    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0


    Thank you for sharing this:p
     
  11. Webfoot

    Webfoot New Member

    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Great post, seems to be a lot of variables at play. Does anyone think the Sunfish would benefit from having a separate fleet with recreational sail and wooden dagger board? My idea being inclusive of all the rest of the non racing sunfish. Here's the bottom line. I can buy a decent Butterfly for $350 and start racing. To get my SF racing I'd have to spend $600 for a foil and racing sail. I understand that doing this would result their being a bigger difference in individual boat performance. Anyway, I can't see where setting up some trail races would hurt.

    Second idea, give the stock boats a handicap and put them in the same race. The would necessitate less resources being needed to run a race. Might provide more tactical interest making the faster boats work their way around the slower boats. Maybe also produce a nautical version of 'road rage.' :eek:
     
  12. mike4947

    mike4947 Member

    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
    We've tried the recreational seperate class. Problem is one will have the rec sail and wood. The next will have a racing sail and old wood, and the third would have a plastic dagerboard and rec sail.
     
  13. Wayne

    Wayne Member Emeritus

    Likes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    0
    It appears Sunfish "One Design" is in the same situation as all other racing worldwide..., cars, motorcycles, planes, bicycles...
    The racing Class keeps pace with evolving technology and for those who want to compete at that level, staying up with the evolution is the cost of participating in the sport. Some vehicular sports also have a "Classic" Class, but even there a line has to be drawn as to just where in the production timeframe a Classic is defined.

    What you have described here . . .
    . . . is a free-for-all fun gathering.

    The only way I know to make order out of chaos is to let go of the "One Design" idea (since it doesn't work in a "make everybody happy world") and go to open racing with handicapping. Even there different handicap categories would need to be developed for different eras of the boat's development. Further, if hybrid boats wanted to participate they'd have to race X-number of events to establish an "individual handicap".
     
  14. 254X

    254X New Member

    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    Enlightening discussion, gentlemen. And thanks for the insight and ideas so far.

    Thinking about it, I don't really have any objection to carefully considered innovation. The post-'71 rudder attachment and the new longer daggerboard are probably good examples. I guess my biggest quandry is the departure in sail design and subsequent awarding of the production monopoly to a single firm.

    I'm just not sure how much fun and enjoyment is gained from the "faster" sail and added lines. Of course, I am speaking out of turn: I have yet to sail a 'fish with a race sail and I (obviously) have never raced one.

    But, bottom line, and unless I am missing something key, it seems a cost solution lies with something along the lines of what the Flying Scot class does. Any loft can make class-legal sails. They just have to be made according to class guidelines. Everytime you buy a sail you also pay a small royalty to the class (through the sail manufacturer) that, I guess, ensures the sail was made to class specs. Result: Price competition as opposed to monopolistic pricing. (We can fire up a separate economics thread is anyone is interested--or is suffering from insomnia!)

    The two main attractions of the Sunfish (to me and others I know) are low cost and simplicity. If you have to throw those out to simply enjoy racing I'd say that concession alone would be at the core of any eroding interest in the boat.
     
  15. Wayne

    Wayne Member Emeritus

    Likes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Two sails, one cut for leisure sailing and one for competition is not unique to Sunfish. Other sailboats have the same option, for example...
    http://www.schurrsails.com/fs.html

    As a matter of fact, other sailboats come in versions for leisure and competition..., also at a significant difference in cost.
    http://tinyurl.com/choice-of-application



    The Class has freely chosen how this works...

    [​IMG]
    We Have Met the Enemy and He is Us



    The idea seems to be, you can buy the whole enchilada, but without the skill to make use of all the ingredients you're off the back of the pack anyway. ...and it's been demonstrated, someone with good sailing skills can win consistently with a simply equipped yet well maintained boat.




    Bottom line is no one races and expects to be in the running without:
    • Good sailing skills (a good handle on most all lateen rig tactics given in The Sunfish Bible)
    • Boat with a hull that isn't fatigued or waterlogged
    • Racing Sail in good condition
    • Composite daggerboard
    • Post 1971 rudder

    This sort of basic laundry list holds true for all mechanized sports. What muddies the waters with Sunfish and even Scots is the Class rules are backward compatible for every stage of development, even though being competitive across the whole evolutionary spectrum with anything less than the above basics is purely an illusion.
     
  16. Zeppo

    Zeppo Member

    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
    Minor correction..... Those sails shown in the start of one of the Volvo Open 70 round the world legs are not uncoloured polyester, they are Kevlar Mylar laminates, Kevlar has that straw colour.
    Given that Sunfish dinghies are a one design class it would seem logical to make all of them identical from sails to foils. Doing this would enable an owner to sail solely for recreation, or if desired, to race....without the need to upgrade.
     
  17. 254X

    254X New Member

    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    This is what I was driving at.

    This, and spreading the sailmaking among numerous lofts to keep the prices as low as possible. Again, why does the class award a monopoly for sails?

    I completely understand and respect that other classes have different rec and race sails and setups. But, an attractive uniqueness of the Sunfish class would be a true one-design boat that could be a rec boat or a race boat and with a variety of sail sources. Would certainly work for me!
     
  18. Zeppo

    Zeppo Member

    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
    I doubt if the Sunfish sail market is the bread and butter of North Sails, and if the load was to be further spread out nobody would make much on them. Going with a single loft is important for consistency. Speaking of monoplies (although not in the truest sense) The Sunfish itself is only made by one licenced builder as is the case with most non-home built boats.
     
  19. Wayne

    Wayne Member Emeritus

    Likes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Yes, thank you for the clarification. I mentioned polyester in relation to the material a Sunfish sail is made of and also pointed to other plastics in their raw form…, but you are right, I didn’t make the distinction from the sails pictured.




    I don’t disagree, a simple boat is what Sunfish started out as and what its original popularity centered around. Somewhere along the way, evolutionary improvement gave way to divergence of design and intent. Apparently the simple design fell out of favor with the buying public. The sportier Sunfish on steroids… strike that… make it just Redbull, got more recognition.

    Significantly since the 1980s, the trend in sailsports has been more toward the extreme. By the 1990s that put hundreds of small boat builders right out of business. Only Sunfish and a couple of others that didn’t shift to a more extreme design have hung on… and I will surmise this is because the boat is only one part of a broader spectrum of boats in the builder’s line. I seriously doubt Sunfish or any of the Sunfish-like boats still in existence could survive as a standalone in today’s marketplace…, except as very limited or custom production for a counterculture still seeking sailing simplicity.

    . . . then again, there’s nothing stopping anyone from organizing a “Classic Sunfish” Class. That might even take a huge weight off the shoulders of both the builder and the ISCA. The ISCA could stop feigning “One Design Fits All” and focus on upper echelon racing and international competition. The builder could breath easier, no longer shackled by backward compatibility issues to mollify the Class.




    I belong to three sailing groups for boats open to using any sailmaker. Like Sunfish, the volume is low so prices are not reduced by competition. The sails for these boats are only competitive for their generic size range, but in no way is the price now lower than it was when they were only made by a single OEM sailmaker.

    It’s not just competition it’s also about volume and, despite the number of Sunfish out there, replacement sails don’t appear to be a high volume item. I believe the price difference we currently see is the difference between a regular sales margin and a margin padded to overlap other, even lower volume parts… or low volume runs in a high volume loft… or operating costs to help keep a business alive who wouldn’t otherwise remain solvent using a more competitive pricing model. Conversely, the $140-$160 street price may be a loss leader price in an attempt to test what the actual annual volume may be. We could very well see the real price, OEM and third party loft alike, settle out at some compromise level in the future.
     
  20. Dennis Connor

    Dennis Connor New Member

    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Going to multiple sail makers will raise the price of competitive sails, not lower them. Look at Optis. Those sails cost $500+, and they are the same size as the cover I used to put on the wheel of Stars and Stripes when she was at the dock! What has happened with Optis is the sail makers have gotten into a battle, and they are spending money on R&D and materials. Everyone wants to have the best for their children, so they pay whatever it takes. The same thing would happen with your little Sunfish. Someone would make a cheapo racing sail, but it will be smoked by the expensive ones with the R&D behind them, so no one will buy the cheapo one. You will end up paying almost as much for a Sunfish sail as I did for a jib for Stars and Stripes down in Australia.

    Dennis
     

Share This Page